What Kind of Writer Are You? What Kind of Writer Would You Like to Be?

What kind of writer are you? What kind of writer would you like to be? These deep thoughts came about, I think, because I’ve been without a computer for some weeks. (I bought a new computer but it had to go in for service the first week I had it. Now that it’s back in my office, I find it will have to go back in for more service this week!).

As a computer-less writer, I’ve had to content myself with reading about writers and writing. I finally reached this conclusion: although I would aspire to be influenced by other writers, I think I’m addicted to the Pearl S. Buck method of writing she talked about here:

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.

So I’m a workhorse kind of writer — that’s what I do. That has been my modus operandi for more than 25 years and is responsible, I think, for my being able to produce so many articles and other writing projects. But writers like Mark Twain have also had an influence on me. Based on his advice, I’ve worked hard to make my writing lean, to take out every useless word. I am not always successful at that, even though
I always plan to write that way. I also plan to be the kind of writer that Twain spoke about here (although I’m not always successful at this either):

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English – it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.

I think I’ve been a bit more successful in the choice of the words I use in my articles, but I still have a long way to go before reaching the level that Twain wrote about here:

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single
sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire
of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

Nevertheless, as a down-to-earth writer, I’ve long had lofty aspirations. I’ve never succeeded and I doubt if I ever could, but I’d really like to do the kind of
writing that Lord Byron speaks of here:

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.

Now I ask you: What kind of writer are you? What kind of writer would you like to be? And who has influenced your writing?

Please leave a comment.
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